How To Build Stronger Relationships With A Small Team

To fulfill your core responsibilities as a manager, you must know how to build a relationship with each of your direct reports in your team. This can take some work because you have to find the right balance.
As a manager, you’ll have to show them that you care about them personally, but also be able to challenge them when they need to improve. Small talk with your team will only get you so far — see below for four strategies to build strong relationships, instead.
1. More Listening 
There’s nothing wrong with socializing with your team, but to really build effective relationships, you need to make sure they feel heard. This means ensuring that you receive feedback from them, and showing that you care about what they have to say. A big reason why many employees leave their companies is that they don’t feel like they have a voice. Knowing what your team thinks and feels will help you create a much healthier and more productive workspace.
2. Less Talking At Eachother, More Talking With Eachother
Your employees aren’t really looking to have idle conversations; they are more interested in learning how to grow professionally, and that’s where you step in. This means sharing your constructive criticism when they make mistakes, as well as giving praise when you see growth. Be early and sincere with your praise, too.
3. Achieve Results By Working Together 
Perks can help reinforce your desired work culture, but it can’t make your culture. Giving out vacations and free lunches won’t mean much if people’s efforts aren’t recognized, or you’re not achieving results. Have a collaborative space where your team can create ideas, discuss and debate. Be clear with your team about who has to be the decider in certain situations, and remind them that it’s not always you.
4. Don’t Be Promotion-Obsessed 
Promoting is a narrow focus of development, whereas career action plans are more based on an individual’s motivations. Helping your employees reach their goals will, in turn, help you build effective relationships with them. A simple procedure you can have with your employees is the following:

  • What’s their life story? This will help you understand their work motivations.
  • What about their dreams and aspirations? This will help you know the skills they must develop to reach them.
  • Create an action plan based on what you’ve learned.

Instead of relying on small talk, focus on improving how you and your team work together in order to build better relationships.
Source: Harvard Business Review

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